Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)


Cycling on a Capital BikeShare in  Washington, D.C. Photo by Michael Jantzen. 

Updated 11:18: The press release is now online. I’ve been trying to pay attention to the City Council live video feed and transcript, but I’m not sure if they’ve discussed the proposed ordinance yet.

Alta Bicycle Share and Public Bike System Co. were just announced on the Chicago Tribune’s website as the Chicago bike sharing operator and equipment vendor, respectively. From John Hilkevitch:

City Hall estimates the total capital and start-up costs at $21 million, adding that $18 million will be covered by federal funding aimed at improving air quality and easing traffic congestion [CMAQ] and the remaining $3 million will be provided by the city.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is set to introduce an ordinance at Wednesday’s City Council meeting seeking aldermanic approval to enter into an agreement with Alta Bicycle Share, officials said.

The losing entries were offered by Bike Chicago [also known as Bike and Roll] and its equipment provider, B-Cycle; and I-GO and its equipment providers, Tracetel and Schwinn, officials said.

Alta Bicycle Share operates bike sharing in Washington, D.C., Boston (“Hubway”), Minneapolis (“NiceRide”), and soon New York City, among others. Where kiosks will go will be the result of a public outreach process to be operated by a separate company and team; it was part of a different request for proposals (RFP) process. This will be handled by Sam Schwartz Engineering, CDOT staff, and likely planners at the CTA.

We expect that the city will use a public suggestion website, similar to the one the NYC Department of Transportation is using to solicit input on where stations should go. The map shows thousands of New Yorkers’ ideas. It runs on a platform related to Shareabouts, and created by OpenPlans. The City of Portland recently launched a website based on Shareabouts and in the 30 minutes between my first and second page loads on Monday, I saw 100 new station ideas pop up.


Read our past coverage of bike sharing. This post may be updated as more becomes known.

13 thoughts on “Chicago announces bike sharing vendor (updated)”

    1.  No way. Alta is the operator and planner but uses Bixi a Canadian company for teh bikes and station equipment. They are in financial trouble and their CEO resigned in late 2011. They have committed to NYC and now Chicago, they cannot make the stations and bikes that quickly and solar is not best choice in either location.

      1. Bixi is the name of the Montréal bike sharing system that has been adopted worldwide. From the Bixi Wikipedia page, “Bixi is a public bicycle sharing system developed by the Public Bike System Company (PBSC), which itself was set up by the parking authority of Montréal to create a modular bicycle sharing system for Montréal.”

  1. let’s do the math

    capital costs $ 21 millions / 3 000 bikes = $ 7 000 per bike!!!!

    100% public funding $ 18 M Federal + $ 3 M City
    100% goldplated 18 carats

    How can Canadian Bixi be in financial troubles???

    1. Take another look at your math. There’s manufacturing the bikes, the stations, delivering both, installing both, testing both, and then launching everything. You cannot simply divide $21 million by the number of bicycles.

      1. Including the cookies for the opening ceremony, I still come to the result of  $ 21 millions / 3 000 bikes =  $ 7 000 per bike
        This ratio is double the Washington ratio, with the same suppliers.

        1. I would expect the major portion of the cost to be in the stations.  Chicago will have 300, while DC only has 140.   Chicago may also be receiving a proportionally larger serving of cookies at the opening ceremony…

  2. Wonder why Bike Chicago wasn’t picked? They had all the infrastructure already in place to build and service the bikes. According to a story in the Tribune, Emanuel’s bike guy had a consulting contract with Alta before coming to the city.

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